Governor: As much as it pains us to say it, we endorse Jerry Brown. He wasn't much of a mayor, and he wasn't much of a governor the first time around either. But he's better than Meg Whitman, who didn't even start voting until recently. The only reason she's gotten this far is because of her obscene wealth. So hold your nose and vote Brown.
Senate: Barbara Boxer is the clear choice. Yes, she could be more effective in the US Senate, but her work on climate-change legislation and her stalwart stances on progressive issues have been noteworthy. Carly Fiorina, by contrast, is a failed ex-CEO and Tea Party wannabe, who would attempt to roll back President Obama's achievements, including health-care and Wall Street reform.
Attorney General: Unfortunately, Democrats have fielded a weak candidate this year. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has been a mediocre DA. By contrast, her opponent, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, a moderate Republican, is very impressive. His office has set the gold standard in California for prosecuting corrupt public officials — both Republicans and Democrats — and for aggressively targeting police misconduct. Our only concerns about him involved gay marriage and marijuana legalization. But his campaign assured us that he has no plans to intervene in the Proposition 8 federal case if he's elected, nor has he decided whether he will defend Prop 19 in court if it wins — which essentially mirrors Harris' position. As a result, we're endorsing Cooley, because he's clearly the better prosecutor.
Controller: Incumbent John Chiang, a Democrat, has been a good, independent controller, and we see no reason not to endorse his reelection.
Insurance Commissioner: We think Democratic Assemblyman Dave Jones will be a strong advocate for consumer rights, while his opponent, Republican Assemblyman Mike Villines, appears to be in the insurance industry's pocket.
Lieutenant Governor: We greatly admire San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's courageous stance on gay marriage. But while the mayor has been notable for the quality of his ideas, his terms in office have been characterized by more talk than action. So we've decided to endorse moderate Republican Abel Maldonado for lieutenant governor. We respect Maldonado for being one of the few state Republicans to cross party lines and work with Democrats when he was in the state Senate. And his decision to break with the GOP and vote with Democrats on a budget deal earlier this year in exchange for the June open primary proposition was a win-win.
Secretary of State: Democratic incumbent Debra Bowen has been a good secretary of state and there's no reason why she shouldn't be reelected.
State Superintendent of Schools: We think Larry Aceves, an experienced public schools superintendent, will be an independent voice and an advocate for students and parents.
Treasurer: Democratic incumbent Bill Lockyer has been a solid state treasurer and we endorse him for reelection.
Alameda County Board of Supervisors: We endorse Nadia Lockyer — Bill Lockyer's wife — for county supervisor. We simply can't support ex-state Senator Liz Figueroa after she clearly lied about living in Alameda County when she actually lived in San Mateo County.
Superior Court Judge: We endorsed Victoria Kolakowski in the June primary and we're endorsing her again this November. The transgendered administrative law judge will bring a new and much-needed perspective to the Alameda County court system, which has been dominated over the years by law-and-order prosecutors.
Oakland Mayor: Rebecca Kaplan, Jean Quan, and Joe Tuman. See our endorsement from last week.
Oakland City Council District 2: We think Pat Kernighan has been an excellent and fiercely independent city councilmember, and we proudly endorse her reelection bid.
Oakland City Council District 4: We're doing a ranked choice endorsement in this race. We endorse Libby Schaaf as our first choice, followed by Daniel Swafford as our second pick, and Jill Broadhurst as our third. Schaaf reminds us of Pat Kernighan in 2006. She, too, is an experienced City Hall insider who used to work for Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente. But she assures us that she will be an independent councilwoman, and we think she's the best qualified and smartest candidate in the race.
Oakland City Council District 6: We endorse Councilwoman Desley Brooks for reelection.
Oakland City Auditor: We endorse former deputy city auditor Michael Kilian. He's an experienced auditor, who we think will be independent and productive. Current auditor Courtney Ruby has produced too few audits in the past four years, and has depended too heavily on expensive outside auditing firms.
Oakland School Board District 4: Incumbent Gary Yee has been a good board member and he deserves reelection.
Berkeley City Council District 1: Councilwoman Linda Maio is the clear choice in this race. She's been a strong proponent of downtown development and green issues.
Berkeley City Council District 4: We're doing a ranked choice endorsement in this race. Our first choice is architect Jim Novosel, and our second choice is UC Berkeley engineering instructor Bernt Wahl. Novosel gets it that dense development is the best way to revitalize the downtown and to fight climate change. And Wahl is simply better than incumbent Jesse Arreguin, who claims to be a progressive, but in truth is a NIMBY obstructionist.
Berkeley City Council District 7: We endorse businessman George Beier as our first choice and political newcomer Cecilia "Ces" Rosales as our second pick. Beier, like, Novosel, understands the importance of smart growth and small businesses to the health of Berkeley's economy. And Rosales, although inexperienced, is a better choice than incumbent Kriss Worthington. We used to like Worthington, but we can't endorse him in light of his unyielding and unreasonable opposition to the city's downtown plan and to Measure R.
Berkeley City Council District 8: Incumbent Gordon Wozniak deserves to win reelection against his two anti-growth NIMBY opponents.
Berkeley School Board (3): We endorse incumbent Karen Hemphill and challengers Josh Daniels and Leah Wilson for the three available seats. Hemphill has proven that she knows how to unite Berkeley's political factions without sacrificing results. Wilson has established herself as an energetic and dynamic speaker with a deep understanding of the issues facing the school district and a real sense of the nuances of public policy. And we're impressed by Daniels' energy and understanding of school finance issues.
Alameda City Council (2): We think Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Rob Bonta are the best choices for council. They're both smart and will bring fresh perspectives to the city. We also believe Bonta when he tells us that he won't be beholden to the firefighters' union despite its decision to spend considerable sums supporting him. He says flatly that the firefighters must agree to pension reforms. He also says strongly that he will never vote to allow SunCal to become developer of Alameda Point again.
Albany City Council (2): In light of the council's decision to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on a consultant's report about the Albany waterfront that'll likely just sit on a shelf somewhere, we think it's time for a change in leadership. So we support challengers Caryl O'Keefe and Francesco Papalia for council.
San Leandro Mayor: We endorse incumbent Tony Santos and see no reason to vote him out of office.
Richmond Mayor: Incumbent Gayle McLaughlin deserves reelection. The recent revelations about her past bouts with depression and joblessness might have raised questions about her fitness for office when she first ran for council in 2004, or for mayor two years later. But during the last six years, she has proven to be a stable, strong leader. We're particularly impressed with her courageous stances against Chevron. Her main opponent, Nat Bates, by contrast, has been too cozy with the oil giant over the years.
Richmond City Council (3): We endorse incumbent Jim Rogers and progressives Jovanka Beckels and Eduardo Martinez for the three available positions. Rogers has been a consistent voice against Chevron over the years, and we think Beckels and Martinez, who also have stood up to the oil company, will make good additions to the council.
Contra Costa County District Attorney: Longtime prosecutor Mark Peterson is the clear choice for district attorney. We don't agree with most of his politics, but he's an ethical prosecutor who we believe will break up that office's old-boys network.
AC Transit (At-Large): No endorsement. We've been very disappointed with appointed incumbent Joel Young, but we also can't endorse his opponent, Ellis Jerry Powell, who doesn't seem to be even running a campaign.
BART District 4: We endorse longtime transit activist, Robert Raburn, who we believe will bring some leadership and sanity to BART's dysfunctional board of directors. And we can't endorse longtime director Carol Ward Allen in light of her support of the $500 million Oakland airport connector boondoggle.
EBMUD Ward 7: We endorse environmentalist Matt Turner over incumbent Frank Mellon to represent the Castro Valley-Hayward area on the East Bay MUD board. We strongly agree with Turner's opposition to the giant new dam planned for the Mokelumne River in the Sierra foothills.
Proposition 19: Hell Yes. Details next week.
Proposition 20: No. We support the independent redistricting commission for state legislative districts, but think it's prudent to wait to see how it works before extending it to Congress.
Proposition 21: Yes. Our state parks, among California's most treasured resources, are in disarray and this $18 vehicle registration fee will provide a dedicated source of income for upkeep. It also gets you into the parks free, year-round.
Proposition 22: Yes. Cities, particularly ones like Oakland, need redevelopment funds to help revitalize blighted areas. This measure would halt the practice of the state raiding these funds to use elsewhere.
Proposition 23: No. Maybe the biggest no-brainer on the ballot. This measure, funded by out-of-state oil interests, would indefinitely suspend California's landmark climate-change law and block green-energy growth.
Proposition 24: Yes. This measure would eliminate an unaffordable $1.7 billion tax break for businesses.
Proposition 25: Yes. California's budget process is broken. Prop 25 would lower the unreasonable two-thirds vote needed to pass a budget to a simple majority. And don't believe the false assertions by opponents that it will make it easier to raise taxes.
Proposition 26: No. State and local governments depend on a variety of fees to stay afloat. But Prop 26 could be devastating because it would treat fees as taxes and would require a two-thirds vote from the electorate to raise them.
Proposition 27: No. Two years ago, California voters approved a measure to take redistricting away from the legislature and hand it to an independent commission. Prop 27, sponsored by state legislators, would kill it.
Measure F (countywide): Yes. We support this $10 vehicle registration fee that would raise money for road repair, public transit, and bicycle lanes.
Measure H (Berkeley Unified): Yes. We support this special tax for school-building maintenance.
Measure I (Berkeley Unified): Yes. We also support this $210 million bond measure to renovate schools.
Measure J (Emery Unified): No. Normally, we support school bond measures, but we opposed this $95 million one because it calls for the demolition and rebuilding of Anna Yates Elementary School just two years after the district spent $9 million renovating it.
Measure L (Oakland Unified): No. Although we agree that California schools are underfunded, particularly Oakland, we oppose this measure because we think the district needs to solve its main financial problem before asking voters for more money. Namely, Oakland has far more schools than it can afford, and it needs to close some of them. Once it does, we would be happy to support another parcel tax.
Measure M (San Leandro Unified): Yes. We endorse this $50 million school bond measure.
Measure N (Albany): Yes. We have no objection to changing the city attorney's position from being elected by the voters to being appointed by the city council.
Measure Q (Albany): Yes. Taxing and regulating medical cannabis is smart.
Measure R (Berkeley): Yes. This is an advisory measure for developing downtown, and we strongly endorse it. It's also received broad-based support from both the business and environmental communities.
Measure S (Berkeley): Yes. We endorse this medical cannabis tax, too.
Measure T (Berkeley): Yes. We also strongly support Berkeley's effort to tax and regulate medium and large medical cannabis growers within the city. It also fixes a loophole in city law that prohibited pot clubs from being near public schools, but not private schools.
Measure V (Oakland): Yes. This is Oakland's medical cannabis tax increase proposal and we support it. It also establishes a 10 percent tax on marijuana should Prop 19 pass.
Measure W (Oakland): Yes. We endorse this reasonable tax on phone lines that would raise about $8 million in much-needed revenue for the city.
Measure X (Oakland): No. We strongly oppose this measure. We won't endorse a $360 annual parcel tax put on the ballot at the request of the police union until union members first agree to pay 9 percent of their pensions like other city employees.
Measure BB (Oakland): Yes. This measure changes the wording in Measure Y, a 2004 initiative approved by voters, to allow the city to keep collecting an existing parcel tax without having to maintain specific police funding levels. The money generated by the tax is needed for community policing, firefighting, and violence prevention programs.
Measure Z (San Leandro): No. We generally oppose sales tax increase measures, like this quarter-cent proposal, because they're overly regressive and they hurt small retailers.
Contra Costa County
Measure M (West Contra Costa Unified): No. West Contra Costa, which includes Richmond, already has too many special taxes on the books.
Measure O (countywide): Yes. We also support CoCo County's version of the $10 vehicle registration to raise funds for road repair, public transportation, and bicycle lanes.
Measure R (El Cerrito): No. We oppose this regressive half-cent sales tax increase.
Measure U (Richmond): Yes. We support this advisory measure on the proposed Point Molate casino because it keeps open the possibility of a potentially huge revenue source and job creator for the city.
Measure V (Richmond). Yes. Of course we endorse Richmond's cannabis tax, too.